'Solomon Seal', engraving on copper, from A Curious Herbal, Trew edition, c. 1770.
Seller ID: 2108(1)
This hand-coloured copperplate engraving, Polygonatum et Sigillium Salomonis, or Solomon Seal, is plate 251 from the Trew edition. The sheet measures 24 cm (w) by 36 cm (h), the impression is 20 cm by 30 cm; printed on fine quality watermarked paper. Elizabeth Blackwell (1707– 1758) was a Scottish botanical illustrator and author who was best known as the artist and engraver who produced the 500 hand-coloured, copperplate engravings for her book, A Curious Herbal containing five hundred cuts of the most useful plants, which are now used in the practice of physick, to which is added a short description of ye plants and their common uses in physick, published in two volumes between 1737 and 1739. The book, which she undertook with the help and encouragement of Isaac Rand, curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden, illustrated many of the newly discovered plants from the New World and was designed as a reference work on medicinal plants for the use of physicians and apothecaries. Her work was endorsed by the Royal College of Physicians and otherwise generally well received. Moreover, it proved commercially successful, and Blackwell was able to clear her husband’s debts and secure his release from debtors’ prison (whereupon he began acquiring debts anew). A second, revised edition of A Curious Herbal was published twenty years later in an enlarged format at Nuremberg by Jacob Trew, a botanist and physician (British Museum).
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